Quercetin – properties and benefits for the body
Every day our body faces harmful environmental influences: ionizing radiation, ultraviolet radiation, toxins and allergens. To combat adverse factors, special active molecules – antioxidants are needed. Natural flavonoids, which include rutin and quercetin, have the strongest antioxidant properties.
Next, you will learn where quercetin is contained, how it differs from other antioxidants, how to identify and compensate for the deficiency of flavonoids in the body.
Quercetin in Latin is called quercetin or quercitin. The active formula belongs to a large group of flavonoids – plant pigments that have beneficial properties for humans. Several dozen flavonoids, including quercetin, are combined under the name “vitamin P”.
The history of the discovery of a chemical compound begins in 1936, when an American biochemist and Nobel laureate isolated it from red pepper. For many years, interest in the properties of quercetin was lost. A new wave of studies of the healing effects of the nutrient occurred in the 1990s. During this period, scientists discovered the antioxidant properties of flavonoids.
Quercetin and rutin: differences
First you need to understand the terminology. Many people under the name “rutin” mean vitamin P, which is erroneous. Rutin (or rutoside) is another representative of flavonoid compounds, which is part of the vitamin R complex. Quercetin and rutin are substances with different spatial structure and physicochemical properties. By structure, rutin is a derivative of quercetin, and is formed as a result of the addition of a carbohydrate residue.
Differences in biological activity and the spectrum of beneficial properties of both substances are insignificant. In medicine, these antioxidants are used both individually and together in drugs of enhanced action.
According to the chemical formula, quercetin is a representative of plant polyphenols, a hydroxy derivative of flavone. The substance belongs to aglycones, since there is no carbohydrate component in the composition of the molecule. In its pure form, the substance is a crystalline powder of red or purple color, which has no odor.
The melting point of quercetin is about 300°C. Unlike rutin, the substance has poor solubility in water, but is well soluble in alcohols, chloroform and acetone. The flavonoid reacts actively with all alkalis. When irradiated with the ultraviolet spectrum, quercetin is optically active and able to fluoresce.
Benefits and harm to the body
Flavonoids are not synthesized in the body, so it is necessary to ensure their intake from the outside with food. Chemical compounds penetrate into all organs and tissues, including the skin, nerve tissue and heart muscle.
The main benefit of quercetin for the human body is the antioxidant effect. The substance neutralizes the negative effects of free radicals and reactive oxygen species. Flavonoid molecules bind to active radicals, turning them into inactive compounds. Quercetin activates the processes of cell division and maintains the normal bioelectric properties of cell membranes. The substance slows down the aging process of the body, increases life expectancy.
In addition to the antioxidant effect, a number of other useful properties of quercetin have been proven:
- Anti-inflammatory effect. The nutrient blocks the cascade of biochemical transformations of arachidonic acid, as a result of which the formation of leukotrienes and other inflammatory mediators decreases in the blood and tissues. The substance strengthens the wall of small vessels, reduces exudation.
- Antitumor activity. The compound alters the activity of the epidermal growth factor, thereby inhibiting the malignant transformation of cells. The substance is an excellent addition to standard chemotherapy.
- Anti-allergic effect. Quercetin exhibits the properties of a natural antihistamine compound: it stabilizes mast cells and blocks the release of histamine upon contact with an allergen. The substance eliminates allergy symptoms: lacrimation, urticaria and itching of the skin.
- Regenerative properties. The flavonoid accelerates the healing of wounds and ulcers on the skin, and also stimulates the restoration of the gastric mucosa in erosions and peptic ulcer disease. Quercetin is necessary for bone remodeling in the process of fracture fusion.
- Cardioprotective properties. Quercetin enhances mitochondrial activity and energy supply of the myocardium, increases the contractility of the heart.
The exact need for the active substance quercetin has not been determined. There are general recommendations of doctors: consume at least 50 mg of flavonoids from the vitamin P group per day. Increased dosages of quercetin are necessary for athletes, people with hard physical or mental work.
There are no specific laboratory tests to measure the level of quercetin in the body, so you should focus on the clinical manifestations of hypovitaminosis.
Foods rich in quercetin
Flavonoid is found only in products of plant origin. The largest amounts of quercetin are found in plants of red or purple color, nuts. The leader in nutrient concentration is buckwheat, so it should be present in the diet of every person. All data on the amount of quercetin in products are approximate, since its level may vary depending on the growing conditions of plants and the method of culinary processing.
Signs of beriberi
If the flavonoid quercetin is supplied in insufficient quantities, a number of unpleasant symptoms occur:
- constant weakness and drowsiness;
- intolerance to physical activity;
- pain in the shoulders and leg muscles;
- the appearance of spot hemorrhages on the skin and mucous membranes;
- bleeding gums;
- hair loss.
If beriberi occurs, it is quite difficult to replenish the level of flavonoids with the help of food. Doctors recommend using special vitamin preparations that contain natural quercetin and other substances from the bioflavonoid group.
The harm of hypervitaminosis
An overabundance of quercetin when using only food sources is impossible. Overdose of the active substance occurs with prolonged use of biologically active additives in ultra-high doses. Hypervitaminosis is mainly manifested by allergic reactions (skin rashes, lacrimation), which require symptomatic therapy.
Application in medicine
Pharmaceutical companies produce different variations of dietary supplements with quercetin in the composition: mono-additives, double-acting antioxidants with bromelain, active formulas with Ester-C and citrus flavonoids. The main form of release is capsules with a vegetable shell. Capsules dissolve quickly when ingested by the gastrointestinal tract, have high bioavailability. Some supplements are available in the form of tablets or granules.
The drugs are positioned as powerful antioxidants. Doctors recommend taking dietary supplements to people who are stressed, live in ecologically unfavorable regions. Cosmetologists prescribe quercetin to women to slow down the appearance of age-related skin changes. Quercetin is needed to strengthen blood vessels, prevent bleeding.
Quercetin is used in a comprehensive treatment regimen for such diseases:
- erosive and ulcerative lesions of the gastric mucosa caused by taking NSAIDs;
- periodontal disease;
- purulent-inflammatory processes in soft tissues;
- pain syndrome in osteochondrosis, arthritis;
- neurocirculatory dystonia;
- chronic glomerulonephritis;
- complications after chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Quercetin is one of the most powerful flavonoids that protects the body from free radicals, strengthens blood vessels, and helps the immune system work. The substance is present in red vegetables and fruits, leafy greens, buckwheat, There are many natural preparations with quercetin on sale, which are useful to take for preventive purposes, as well as in the complex therapy of various diseases. Supplements do not cause harm even with prolonged use, but it is better to consult a doctor before buying medicines.